Honey, I Shrank the J.Crew!

There was a time in my life…sometime during college…where I tried to shrink everything.

I’d buy the smallest things I could find, assess shrink-ability, and after a small panic attack (OMG, if I wash this, I can’t return it!), snipped the tags. After washing and drying the bejezus out of them, I’d do a little happy dance if they shrank down to size, or sadly toss them in the giveaway pile if they didn’t.

My life hasn’t been very exciting recently, so I figured a few laundry induced panic attacks might be kind of fun. I pulled a few items out of my closet that weren’t quite up to fitting snuff, and went on a shrinking rampage. Eek!

Disclaimer: Shrink clothing at your own risk! I am not a clothing shrinking expert. This is only my experience. Results may vary.

The first victim of my cruelty…this J.Crew cashmere cardigan:

JCrew-Cashmere-Shrink-Before-After

 

How I shrank it: Wash: Cold water on delicate cycle
Dry: Medium heat, checking periodically

 

JCrew-Cashmere-Shrink-Back-Side

Success! This cardigan shrank up nicely around the torso for a slimmer fit, shrank a little bit in length, and shrank in sleeve length. The final result is much more fitted and flattering. I ended up letting this one dry fully in the drier.

Measurements after shrinking:

JCrew-Cashmere-Shrink-Measurements-600

Feeling victorious after this shrinking success, I charged full steam ahead to my next victim, the J.Crew Merino Chiffon-Placket Cardigan:

JCrew-Placket-Shrink-Before-After

 

How I shrank it: Wash: Cold water in wash bag on delicate cycle
Dry: Medium heat, checking periodically

 

 

JCrew-Silk-Placket-Shrink-Back-Side

Holy smokes! I meant to check on this one periodically while it dried, but by the first time I checked, it was already fully dry & shrunk! The weave on this sweater was much looser than the cashmere cardigan, so it shrank way more. Everything shrank, the overall length, sleeve length, sleeve width and the width around the torso. This went from a baggy saggy fit, to a super fitted, shrunken fit. Much better than before, but I wish it hadn’t shrunk so short. I’ll be a little more careful with the Weathered Wood color.

Look at those measurement differences!

JCrew-Chiffon-Cardigan-Before-After-Measurement

Then, I got really adventurous, and popped the LOFT Equestrian Lean Trousers into the wash:

Loft-Trousers-Shrink-Before-After

 

How I shrank it: Wash: Cold water on delicate cycle
Dry: High heat until fully dry

 

Not much of a difference from the front, but the fit is much more fitted from behind and the side:

Loft-Trouser-Shrink-Back-Side

Compare this with the fit off the rack in this post…and you can see it took up quite a bit. The waist now fits perfectly, and the thighs and legs are much more fitted. The length also took up enough so that I only need to roll the cuff once, instead of twice.

Funnily, the waist did not shrink. The rise shrank, so the waist fits me better because now it sits at a lower, and wider, part of my hips. Weird huh?

LOFT-Equestiran-Shrink-Before-After

And that is how I spent my weekend. Exciting huh? ;)

Be sure to read Vicky’s post on how she shrank her cashmere sweater.

Do you shrink your clothing for a better fit? Do you have any success or horror stories?

Disclosure – Clicking or purchasing through the links in this post may yield commissions for AlterationsNeeded.com. See the Alterations Needed Disclosure for more details.

67 Comments

  • Anonymous says:

    Wow, the J. Crew cashmere sweater looks so much better than before! But I'm kind of shocked at how shrunken the merino cardigan got. I don't know why I was under the impression that only cotton items could really shrink. You were really brave to throw all those items into the dryer!

  • Stephanie says:

    I have the opposite problem, how were you washing the Merino Chiffon-Placket Cardigan? I don't want mine to shrink. Cold wash and then laying flat to dry?

  • Alterations Needed says:

    @Anonymous – I wash shocked at the merino cardigan too! I did not expect that dramatic of a shrink! Wool, as well as cotton, is a great shrinker, so be careful with wool items in the wash if you don't want them to shrink. It may look like I was brave, but I nearly gave myself a heart attack with every wash…lol. :)

    @Stephanie – If you don't want it to shrink, wash in cold water, and then lay flat to dry. It should come out just fine. ;)

  • Agulka-Ahnesa says:

    nice:)

  • Maddy says:

    It's funny, when I want sometime to shrink it doesnt shrink. But the things I dont want to shrink, shrinks. So I guess I have the opposite problem from you! Hehe.

    Nicely done by the way.

  • Tara says:

    You are very brave to do this with your clothes :) Obviously, you are very good at it, because they all turned out so well!

  • Banhannas says:

    You are so much more kinder to your clothes than I am. I do use cold water in all of my laundry but I will seriously fry the living sin out of them if I want them to shrink! All of the clothes look like it got tailored more towards your shape! I agree with you that the placket ruffle cardigan shrank a bit too much. I almost like it in the before picture where the ruffles were more freely sitting. =o|

  • Elizabeth says:

    I just shrank my J.Crew cardigan with great results as well!

  • SewPetiteGal says:

    Wow, that is impressive! You must have nerves of steel LOL bc my clothes either don't shrink or shrink to baby size :) So glad these worked out for your because they definitely fit much better.

  • PetiteAsianGirl says:

    The first two look fantastic post shrinking. Can't see the difference in the pants, but I'm very happy to hear that the inseam and legs shrunk a little and not the waist. the waist is okay on me and I'm hoping to work on the parts that shrunk for you.

    Did the material of the two cardigans look worse after a machine wash and dry? I semi ruined my favorite mustard yellow long cardigan from martin and osa after a "delicates/handwash" cycle and medium dry. I had it laid flat, but needed to get on a flight so I machine dried to hurry it up. It looks very worn now and it was the first time I washed it…ahh.

  • Really Petite says:

    I love shrinking things! But you def have to be careful though because I have ruined a BR long cardi and it balled up in the dryer.

    I cannot believe how nicely the first 2 cardi's look afterwards! Did you have to iron out the chiffon?

  • Jen says:

    Haha! Glad you took the plunge. My J Crew cashmere and chiffon placket both look much nicer after a shrink but since I handwashed and air-dried it's definitely not as shrunken as yours. Too bad we aren't closer because I bet your little gold cardi would fit me just fine and we could swap. ^_~

    My wool pants I tried shrinking twice because I was too scared to machine dry it hot enough! They fit like your "befores" now, which is fine with me. :)

  • DSK Steph says:

    This is such a fun post! lol I love the before & after photos :D

  • shortcouture says:

    I as finally getting rid of a lines mix blazer that had always been too big. So I washed it and it shrank to a perfect size – so I kept it.

    Though I might get braver now and have a go with a few more things.

  • Cathster says:

    Awesome post! Glad you had pretty good results. I certainly don't have the courage go on a shrinking rampage.

  • Anonymous says:

    I have done the same thing, with successful results. However, I have almost cried over some of my ann taylor loft jeans/khakis that have shrunk in the wash..my tailor turned them into capri's….

  • fashionforteens says:

    Wow, everything fits you so much better after you shrank it! I used to try to shrink everything too but get too afraid that I'll shrink something too much or that it just won't turn out right. I used to inadvertently shrink my jeans because I put them in the dryer. Now I hang them to dry.

  • Callandra says:

    Love those cardi's since your shrunk them!!…couldn't really see the difference in the pants, but if they're more comfortable to wear then that's all that really matters ;)

  • calcho says:

    Awesome results. Off to try this with a cashmere tunic….even if there is major shrinkage, I could wear it as a sweater.

  • Ski Petite says:

    Nice job! The cardigans look great.

    I have had my share of shrinking disasters… but usually it is when I am not trying to shrink and I just end up washing something in a stupid way.

    Ski Petite

  • Anonymous says:

    I'm not sure if I'm brave enough to try this.

  • Michelle says:

    Wow! I am shocked at how much the merino sweater shrank! I really like the shrunken look better…I think the crop fit looks great!

    I have a cute green/white zebra stripe Banana cardigan that is in my giveaway pile because it is slightly too large. After reading this, I would love to try to shrink it. It is 73% cotton / 23% nylon / 4% spandex. Any suggestions?

  • hurricanekerrie says:

    What an idea!!! I love how the cardigans shrunk. I've never purposely done this, now I have to sit on a few thoughts before I go shrink-crazy with my closet. ;)

  • JenlovesBal says:

    I must try this! Thanks for the idea!

    Yours came out really well. The fit looks excellent on you.

  • Alterations Needed says:

    @Maddy – LOL. I've had items shrink that I didn't want to as well. Like a pair of jeans I had hemmed perfectly to heels. After a few washes, they were short enough for flats only and tight in the waist. :(

    @Tara – LOL…I'm not that good at it, or else the chiffon placket cardigan would not have shrunken to dwarf-like proportions. Luckily I have a short torso so it's not too odd looking. ;)

    @Banhannas – Now you are brave! I'll totally fry things like jeans, that I want to shrink before a trip to the tailor, but otherwise I'm a bit careful. Yeah, I wish the chiffon placket cardigan hadn't shrunk quite so much, but I like it better than before, so I'll take it. :)

  • J / punksjunk / mjvp says:

    Wow, I had no idea the drying factor alone could shrink clothing!! I have a BR sweater I regret purchasing that may work with my wardrobe if I shrink it a tad.. Thanks for the suggestion!! P.S. Go look for the excitement if it doesn't come to you! Check local comedy shows, ticketmaster, or goldstar for local events. :)

  • Alterations Needed says:

    @Elizabeth – Excellent! Glad yours shrank to perfection as well! I also noticed the cashmere is much softer after I put it through washing/shrinking torture.

    @SewPetiteGal – LOL. I had a pair of work-out pants in college shrink to baby proportions and I still wore them…I just looked really awkward. :)

    @PetiteAsianGirl – Yeah, from the front it's hard to tell with the pants (my lighting was going away as I took those pics as well, so they turned out dark), but they fit much better in the hip and thigh after the shrink. The cashmere cardigan actually felt softer after I put it through the wash, which is nice. =) The merino cardigan got slightly stiffer (I think because the weave became tighter through shrinking), and there is slight puckering around the neckline, but nothing bothersome.

  • Alterations Needed says:

    @Really Petite – Nope, no ironing needed. The chiffon came out of the wash beautifully.

    @Jen – Yes! I thought about you when I pulled the chiffon cardigan out of the drier. My thoughts were, "well, if it's too small, Jen is getting another cardigan…" LOL.

    @DSK Steph – Thanks! I was a bit shocked to see some of the changes after putting together the before & after pics.

    @shortcouture – OMG…I'd be terrified to try and shrink a blazer, but since you were going to get rid of it anyways, I guess it didn't really matter. So glad it shrank down! That's really cool!

  • Alterations Needed says:

    @Cathster – It was certainly a nerve wracking experience, but worth it if you have something that could stand to be a size or two smaller.

    @Anonymous – Wow! LOFT bottoms shrink like crazy huh? Must be somehing about their fabric content, because I usually have a hard time shrinking bottoms. Good to know for future purchases.

    @fashionforteens – Do jeans shrink back up after stretching when you air dry them? I always need to take the thigh back up in the drier after a few wears, so I don't feel like I can ever air dry my jeans.

  • Miss. Studios says:

    AN, I had to mention your story in my outfit post today. I am hoping my new jcrew cardigan to be shirinked when I wash it.

  • Alterations Needed says:

    @Callandra – Yeah, I wish the pictures were better, but they did shrink in the hip and thigh for a better fit. :)

    @calcho – Good luck! The trick is to check it often and then air dry it after it gets down to the size you want.

    @Ski Petite – Yes! It's always the times when you don't want something to shrink that it comes out with baby-like proportions! Doh! I've certainly had that happen.

  • Alterations Needed says:

    @Michelle – It's mostly cotton, so that's in your favor. It probably won't shrink dramatically since it has so many nylon in it, but try like I did: wash in cold and dry on medium to high while checking it often. It should at least take up a little bit. Just don't go too heavy on it because spandex breaks down in too much heat. So maybe shrink it once and then air dry every washing afterwards.

    @hurricanekerrie – Just be more careful than I was and check your item in the drier OFTEN! I waited too long for the merino cardigan. :(

    @JenlovesBal – Thank you! Good luck if you decide to give it a try. :)

    @J / punksjunk / mjvp – Yup, may as well give it a try. It's not getting any use right now since you regret buying it. Sweaters are great shrinkers, and if it shrinks down to size, you'll have a "new" sweater to add to your wardrobe. :)

    @Miss. Studios – Thank you for the mention! Good luck shrinking your J.Crew! :)

  • curls-and-pearls says:

    Holy Kelly the shrinking made such a difference in a good way! You know I've often just thrown in my stuff into the wash without a second thought (I know so bad!) I think I should get in the habit of measuring before and after!

  • kileen says:

    the shrinking made a huge difference in the fit of these items and you had success with every item! you are definitely a shrinking expert! the before/after pics are so cool to see.

    cute and little

  • Lisa - respect the shoes says:

    I shrink things in the dryer all the time, except not by choice, haha! Thanks for these tips, I may need to brave an ill-fitting JC cardi or two myself, I have always found them too boxy in the torso and this may fix them. Now if I can remember to check on them periodically …

  • PetiteXXS says:

    I like your "results may vary" disclaimer :) Definitely brave of you to try, but thanks for sharing! I'll be sure to keep a close eye on my J.Crew ruffle cardis when I finally do decide to wash/shrink any of them. Too bad every item shrinks so differently… it'd be so nice if they included a swatch of fabric with the item so we can do a trial wash/dry to see how it behaves! This is what knitters do before every project when we use a new kind of yarn.

  • Michelle says:

    Love your technique. I do this all the time when I want to test if alteration is needed. Came across this site and discovered there are other petite ladies out there just like me…:) So happy. Do please visit my blog: http://petitepurrfection.blogspot.com/

  • Proudly Petite says:

    This was hilarious; I loved the panic attacks before every wash. I'm exactly the same way, except it's usually because I'm hoping it DOESN'T shrink.

    Too cute. Looks like it turned out really well!

  • Alterations Needed says:

    @curls-and-pearls – I know! The difference is amazing. I didn't know what to expect, but these turned out better than expected.

    @kileen – My favorite is the before & after of the merino cardigan! Holy smokes! Such a difference!

    @Lisa – respect the shoes – Yes! Toss it in! But be sure to check on it in case it shrinks too much!

    @PetiteXXS – I've never heard that about testing yarn before. That would be an excellent idea! Or it would be great if merchants disclosed the wash behavior on the garment tag, instead of just washing suggestions.

    @Michelle – Welcome new petite blogger! ;)

    @Proudly Petite – LOL. That's certainly panic attack worthy also. ;)

  • diaryofashopper says:

    Wow, those J Crew Chiffon Placket cardigans must have really inconsistent sizing. I have it in black, and I haven't shrunk mine and it is only 17" long- even shorter than your shrunken version!

  • diaryofashopper says:

    Correction, it is 19" long- still quite short.

  • katy says:

    if you want the chiffon placket cardigan to be a bit longer, just soak it (not wash it) and lay it flat, but GENTLY pull/stretch it to the length you want. let it dry and it should be just right. it's called 'blocking' if you want to look it up, and i've done it to wool sweaters for my husband who is tall/thin so they're the proper length/width for him.

  • Michelle says:

    The cardis and pants are so cute and chic! I stumbled upon this site looking for fixes or ideas for my favorite cardi that was accidently shrunk in the dryer. A light wool Anne Fontaine parfaite top size 38, it was a perfect fit at 21" long and 16.5" across the bust. I cried when I found it shrunken from high heat to 16.5" long and 12" across. While blocking restored it halfway, it plays another role in my wardrobe. I will try some of the suggestions and hope it doesn't remind me of my ditziness (or look like those girls in Vogue Italia if going to work).

  • Michelle says:

    The cardis and pants are so cute and chic! I stumbled upon this site looking for fixes or ideas for my favorite cardi that was accidently shrunk in the dryer. A light wool Anne Fontaine parfaite top size 38, it was a perfect fit at 21" long and 16.5" across the bust. I cried when I found it shrunken from high heat to 16.5" long and 12" across. While blocking restored it halfway, it plays another role in my wardrobe. I will try some of the suggestions and hope it doesn't remind me of my ditziness (or look like those girls in Vogue Italia if going to work).

  • hurricanekerrie says:

    What an idea!!! I love how the cardigans shrunk. I've never purposely done this, now I have to sit on a few thoughts before I go shrink-crazy with my closet. ;)

  • Ski Petite says:

    Nice job! The cardigans look great.

    I have had my share of shrinking disasters… but usually it is when I am not trying to shrink and I just end up washing something in a stupid way.

    Ski Petite

  • fashionforteens says:

    Wow, everything fits you so much better after you shrank it! I used to try to shrink everything too but get too afraid that I'll shrink something too much or that it just won't turn out right. I used to inadvertently shrink my jeans because I put them in the dryer. Now I hang them to dry.

  • Cathster says:

    Awesome post! Glad you had pretty good results. I certainly don't have the courage go on a shrinking rampage.

  • shortcouture says:

    I as finally getting rid of a lines mix blazer that had always been too big. So I washed it and it shrank to a perfect size – so I kept it.

    Though I might get braver now and have a go with a few more things.

  • Jen says:

    Haha! Glad you took the plunge. My J Crew cashmere and chiffon placket both look much nicer after a shrink but since I handwashed and air-dried it's definitely not as shrunken as yours. Too bad we aren't closer because I bet your little gold cardi would fit me just fine and we could swap. ^_~

    My wool pants I tried shrinking twice because I was too scared to machine dry it hot enough! They fit like your "befores" now, which is fine with me. :)

  • Maddy says:

    It's funny, when I want sometime to shrink it doesnt shrink. But the things I dont want to shrink, shrinks. So I guess I have the opposite problem from you! Hehe.

    Nicely done by the way.

  • Agulka-Ahnesa says:

    nice:)

  • Stephanie says:

    I have the opposite problem, how were you washing the Merino Chiffon-Placket Cardigan? I don't want mine to shrink. Cold wash and then laying flat to dry?

  • SkylarMagazine00 says:

    What a great idea! You would think everybody would know to do this, but to be honest I never even thought about it. I am going to try it! I don’t have a problem with shirts, though, it’s pants that are a challenge for me. I like my pants to be a little long, like right above the toes, most of them go over my toes and I walk on them all the time. I mostly wear flares or bootcut. I look awful in skinnyies.

    • Hi SkylarMagazine00! Definitely try to shrink up denim, or pants that are cotton, but be careful with pants that may be wool. Wool can take up quite a bit depending on the weave, and you could possibly pull a child sized garment out of the dryer. :P

      If the pants are a little bit on the sketchy side as far if they are safe to shrink in the wash, then a quick hem job is the way to go! A tailor usually charges about $10, and sometimes cheaper at drycleaners. If you’re industrious, you can also do it yourself. Good luck!

  • SkylarMagazine00 says:

    What a great idea! You would think everybody would know to do this, but to be honest I never even thought about it. I am going to try it! I don’t have a problem with shirts, though, it’s pants that are a challenge for me. I like my pants to be a little long, like right above the toes, most of them go over my toes and I walk on them all the time. I mostly wear flares or bootcut. I look awful in skinnyies.

  • anu dean says:

    that is pretty awesome

  • Becca says:

    Such a good idea! I am going to shrink my J. Crew Minnies :)!

    • Kristy says:

      Sorry did this work for you? My minnies are stretched out and I would love to get them back to a reasonable size – please let me know what you did and how it turned out!

  • Steve Chan says:

    Desperate question: do you think I can do the same with a denim jacket?

    I bought this jacket from American Apparel in XXS, but since I am a skinny person, It still looks loose on me, so I wanna slim it down to maybe 1-2 size smaller, esp around the waist: http://store.americanapparel.eu/rsand401w.html?cid=1957-1962

    Is it shrinkable? What is the best approach for me to shrink it? By wearing it and sitting in a hot tub? I only have one chance and I don’t wanna ruin such a beautiful jacket!

    Any help/advice is much appreciated!! MANY THANKS!!

    • Hi Steve,

      Soaking and wearing denim only works for raw denim, which I’ve never heard of American Apparel peddling, so I don’t think a hot tub would work.

      Washing it in hot water (or just soaking in hot water) and then popping it in the dryer on high heat will most likely shrink it. If it does shrink, it will, however, shrink in all directions. Sleeves, length, torso width…everything. So beware. If you want it smaller all the way around, then give hot water soak + hot dry a shot.

      If you a) only want one section smaller (such as just the torso width) or b) a more precise shrinkage, I’d highly suggest you take it to a tailor. Asking around for one that has a chain-stitch machine will ensure you get seams that mimic the original factory ones.

      • Steve Chan says:

        Thanks so much!! I think I will try the hot water + hot dryer first… hopefully it will turn out right. Will keep you posted :)
        It’s so difficult to find a denim jacket that fits. They are always too big for someone my size.

  • Susan says:

    Thank you, thank you!!! I found your post after a little googling about shrinking sweaters- and there are millions of blah posts about it- but then I found yours! I’ve been losing weight and shrinking sizes but had a million J Crew cardis that I just didn’t want to ditch, and this worked like magic! I feel like they shrank en entire size- so awesome. Thank you for sharing your wisdom! And what a fun blog you have- I’m here to stay!

  • Chessy says:

    I don’t have a dryer :( can I achieve this by washing alone?

    • Alterations Needed says:

      Hi Chessy,

      Some fabrics will shrink up just from being put through the washer. I’ve had this happen to me with items that are merino wool. Otherwise, I’ve also heard from people who have had things shrink by letting them air dry either 1) in the hot sun, or 2) near a heat source like a space heater. You can always try it that way first, and if it doesn’t work, hunt out a few quarters for a shrink-fest at the local laundry mat. Good luck!

  • Kristy says:

    Hey I know this post is super old but just wanted to let you know I just tried your method on a sale Club Monaco sweater that I really wanted but it was the last one in a Large and your method worked perfectly! It shrunk the exact amounts needed and now my original size large is a perfect s/m :) thanks so much for providing the measurements btw it really helped me gauge approx. how much it would shrink and if I had enough room since I was worried about this sweater!

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